Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bad times in Texas...

I was reading Beck's blog (Life's a Beach!) this morning about how the economy is affecting the area where she lives. She writes about businesses closing and construction stopping on homes being built. The same thing is happening in my area, so I thought I'd do a similar post.

When I first moved here about 4-1/2 years ago, this field with the cows was all I saw from my back yard. In the past two years, this subdivision went up on the other side of the field. (Thank God the little field with the cows is still there!) They also started building houses on the other side of these homes.

But in the past few months, work has stopped and some of them are just standing there as a grim reminder of the times.

The streets are there...with no houses. This has been like this for about nine months.

This is the entrance to a subdivision down the road from me. They built this sign about nine months ago and for about six months after that, a rusted wheelbarrow and big clump of overgrown grass stood in front of it (without the "Loma Verde" on it). I think some of the homeowners must have gotten together and got rid of the grass and wheelbarrow and put the words on it. But there's no landscaping and I think it looks pretty sad...especially considering the fact it's been almost a year ago that they started working on it.

The homes in this area sell for between $100,000 and $200,000. That sounds low compared to the rest of the country, but the incomes are also much lower here so I guess it evens itself out. If you picked up my home and plunked it down in Los Angeles or San Francisco, it would probably be worth over $1,000,000. It's all about location.

About a year ago, they started building a little strip mall less than a mile from where I live. It was finished about six months ago. Here it is now...

There are 12 stores in it and all of them are vacant. Eight of them have "For Lease" signs on the front. The four that don't are empty with no indication that anyone is moving in. Here's the big sign out front advtertising all the businesses:

Here is the Office Max next door to it. There's an Office Depot a mile down the highway, but I guess they thought they could get business. Every time I drive by, I never see more than two or three cars in the parking lot. I'll be surprised if they stay in business too much longer.

This is across the lot from Office Max. That's a new IBC Bank going up. Just what we need is another bank.

What gets me about this whole deal is that even though there are no businesses in this strip mall, they keep all the parking lot lights on all night. How ridiculous is that? And so energy efficient, too! None of it makes any sense.

Driving north on I-35, here's a used car dealership that closed recently...

And a sports bar...

Here's the Office Depot I mentioned. It always has about the same number of cars in the parking lot as the new Office Max. I wonder which one will go out of business first.

And just across the road is the Circuit City where my son worked during the holidays. The management swore up and down to their employees that they weren't going to be closing. then after Christmas, they let a bunch of people go...because they were closing. Go figure.

But on the north end of New Braunfels, they're building a big shopping area with a new theatre and another little strip mall just beside it. The Super Target is already open...soon to be followed by a JCPenney, Best Buy, Ross, Famous Brand Shoes and PetSmart.

It looks like they're building all this fancy stuff around it which may include water features, etc. Who knows.

I don't know what's going in to the little strip mall beside it...there are no signs. Makes me wonder if it's going to end up like the little strip mall by my house.

Personally, I can't believe JCPenney is putting in a store. They're also putting a new one in in San Marcos, which is only about 15 miles north of New Braunfels. AND...keep in mind that Texas' largest outlet mall is in between San Marcos and New Braunfels and has about a gazillion stores. It just gets crazier and crazier. (On a personal note, I can't even remember the last time I was in a JCPenney. They didn't have them in South Dakota, and even when I lived in St. Louis, I never went there. Maybe I'm missing something??)

I guess the Best Buy is going to take over the business of the failing Circuit City.

Here's another little strip mall on the other side of town which I drove by today. Doesn't look any better.

One strange thing I have noticed recently, though. These businesses seem to be all over the place.

I mentioned that to my son the other day and he said, "When times get hard, beauty will be the one thing that a woman wants to hang on to." And he's only 20 years old! He wants to go into psychology...sounds like he may actually be good at it. Well, I guess I'm not the average woman, 'cause I'll definitely pay my utility bill before I get my nails done.

Times are hard...and pretty depressing with no apparent light at the end of the tunnel for quite some time. Tell that to this guy who's playing a fake guitar on a street corner to get people to buy a pizza at Caesar's Pizza.

Maybe I need to change my line of work.


Vee said...

Deb, I came here from Beck's blog, where I commented that I hadn't seen this sort of inactivity around here. Those are some incredible shots, documenting what is happening everywhere, apparently. Thanks for sharing. Perhaps you and Beck should contact Roger Moore?

I enjoyed your son's quote about discretionary spending - even if he didn't call it that. Yet!

Life's a Beach! said...

Deb, that retail scene looks SO familiar! And, of course, the housing landscape. LOTS of streets in with no houses built. Mervyn's went out of business here along with Circuit City, Linen's and Things, and countless others. I think dentists, chiropractors, and even a lot of doctors are having a hard time. When people are unemployed, they put off everything! There have been big state layoffs here in Arizona this month, and the cities all have hiring freezes. Some districts are cutting teachers.

But those nail spa's and beauty supply stores just keep multiplying. I think you'll see a lot of them closing because food and utilities come before pedicures.

I hate to say it, but I think it's going to get worse. :(

Jamqueen said...

I don't think there's an area of the country that's not affected! I work for a small retail gift store--in their heyday they had 4 stores--as of next week, down to one.Closing one at the end of the week that's been open 39 years! The one I work at is the original--open 53 yrs. It's so hard to see these people getting laid off, but then it could be me! Not that I work alot--and it maybe even less soon. We shall see.....